On Carlos Reygadas’s ‘Japón’, and unilateral vs. bilateral cinema

Posted on June 27, 2019


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This June, Film Comment published an interview with Carlos Reygadas, the Mexican filmmaker widely regarded as one of the leading proponents of Slow Cinema. (The term means exactly what you think it does. Think, for instance, of the cinema of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Albert Serra, Lav Diaz and Tsai Ming-liang.) Reygadas says he considers films “bilateral entities”, things that are ambiguous, “things that are only complete once they’ve reached the minds that connect with them.” These are unlike the classic narrative film, which is “unilateral”, meant to make you respond in a specific manner. “The moments in Hitchcock that make you afraid are meant to make everybody afraid. It’s disembarking on you, like a circus. It’s entertainment, perhaps of very good quality, but still entertainment because it’s only coming in one way.”

In a television interview featured in the Criterion Collection DVD of Cherbourg, Demy was asked about deliberately turning his back on “realism” when directors young and old were striving for it. “People don’t sing when asking for the salt in a restaurant or when asking someone to close the door,” the interviewer said. “Why ask people to sing when they have no reason to?” It’s an odd question, because if every artist set out to simply portray reality, or the world as we see and know it, Cubist art and the opera and sci-fi cinema wouldn’t exist. But Demy takes the question seriously. He says singing is a natural mode of expression. The interviewer persists. “Do you see people singing ‘I’d like apple pie!’ in a restaurant?” Demy smiles and says, “Why not! It would make life more pleasant.”

Continued at the link above.

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